6 keys to viral video

Many nonprofits want to produce viral videos for online fundraising. Here’s a really great example of a classic viral video.



This is clearly a legitimate wedding video that has “gotten loose” on the web. When we watched it there were over 657,000 views on YouTube. Take a breath. Well over half a million views for a wedding video? Wouldn’t you love to get 500,000 views for your major donor video? Or for ANYTHING you produce?

What makes this viral?

1. You smile. It is fun and joyful. “Hand Stand Man” at 1:25 in is my hero!

2. You know it is real. Watch the crowd. Their reactions are nearly as much fun as anything else.

3. You wish you had seen it live. You can imagine weddings you’ve been at; what if one of those weddings had started out like that.

4. You can imagine the surprise of having seen it live. What fun! You’d still be telling people about it.

5. You admire them. I don’t know anything about the couple, Jill and Kevin, but I do think they were celebrating their big day in a big way. Good for them.

6. You’re surprised. It does not unfold like ANY of the weddings I’ve been to.

So. For our nonprofit friends and clients, what’s the lesson?

1. You can’t create viral videos. You CAN create contagious videos. Make your videos where anyone can forward and use. This one is longer than I’d recommend, but it is better too. So..capture video of your NPO’s work. The more video you have, the more chances it will get loose.

2. You can’t beat real. This video really happened, it was staged but it wasn’t staged to become a YouTube sensation. You have to think first about capturing whatever is real in your organization’s life and then let it get loose on the web. Don’t produce videos, record stories. Ignore boring. Embrace joyful and surprising.

3. You don’t need big production values. This wasn’t shot with a big crew or fancy equipment. Part of the realness is the low production value. Handout cheap video cameras and fire your videographer.

4. You have to tell a story. I really would like to know more about Jill and Kevin. How’d they meet? Who thought of the dance number? Who’s the “hand-stand guy?” What did the parents think of this? Who knew it was coming? The unknowns make it a wonderful. What is your story? If you don’t have a story, you are in serious trouble fundraising…you HAVE to get a story (let’s talk, we’ll help you get a story).

So start rolling that video tape, who knows? You may get lucky. For now, from watch Jill’s entrance again, now that’s a bride who is loving her day.

Make everyone you know smile. Forward Jill and Kevin’s Big Day to everyone you know. Let’s see how big this can get.


Steve Thomas
Partner, Oneicity

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas

2 thoughts on “6 keys to viral video”

  1. Steve,
    Your advice works I tried it and got 10x the hits on the gang member with a gun to my head video clip. We captured it and tried it. So,great article thanks for the insight and help 🙂

    You guys know what your doing!

    Victor Marx

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.